At the ITA Carolina Regional, Duke seemed primed to take a deep run, with five players making it through to the Round of 32. 

But four of them fell immediately, leaving the Blue Devils with a bitter taste in their mouth. 

Three of the four Duke players that made it to the third round of the 128-player event fell in three sets, with just No. 34 Nicolas Alvarez advancing to the Round of 16 before exiting in the quarterfinals. Heading into the 49ers Fall Invitational Friday-Sunday at Halton-Wagner Tennis Complex in Charlotte, the Blue Devils will look get back on track in their second-to-last event of the fall season. 

“I was a little disappointed with the Round of 32. We had three matches on our rackets, and we couldn’t quite get it done,” Duke head coach Ramsey Smith said. “We’ve really been working on being really organized with our patterns and thought process. These close matches just come down to a couple points here or there, so all we’re trying to do is get a little bit better and more organized with what we’re doing.”

Only one of the three players that will play this weekend—freshman Sean Sculley—even made it to the Round of 32, as Jason Lapidus fell 6-3, 6-1 in the Round of 64 and Ryan Dickerson dropped his match 6-4, 6-1. Sophomore Robert Levine, who has played in just one tournament thus far this year, was slated to appear but will not play while nursing a shoulder injury. 

Lapidus has burst onto the scene, posting a 5-1 singles mark this fall, and Sculley has finished 4-3 in his matches thus far. 

Duke's top players—No. 34 Nicolas Alvarez, No. 44 Spencer Furman, No. 66 Catalin Mateas and Nick Stachowiak—will all play in the desert Nov. 1-3 at the ITA Fall Championships in Indian Wells, Calif. while this week’s players sit. 

Alvarez traveled to his hometown of Lima, Peru, Monday to play in the ATP World Tour Lima Challenger Copa Claro—part of the top level of the minor league tennis circuit. In the first round, he toppled Emilio Gomez 6-1, 6-3 to earn his first win at that level. 

In the second round Wednesday, Alvarez took a 2-1 lead early against No. 106 Marco Cecchinato, but dropped four of the last six games to fall 6-3 before getting bounced with a 6-2 loss in the second set. The former All-American also tried his hand at doubles alongside Jose Hernandez, but lost 4-6, 6-2, 1-0 (5) against Inigo Cervantes and Fabiano De Paula. 

“It was a really great opportunity for him,” Smith said. “He’s been one of the guys that has been playing extremely well and I [was] excited for him in his hometown tournament.”

After missing more than nine months with a wrist injury, Alvarez has rebounded well in the fall, finishing 5-2 in singles, but has dropped both of his matches against ranked competition. 

Although Duke struggled in singles at the ITA Carolina Regional aside from Alvarez, it performed much better in doubles, as Sculley and Stachowiak made it to the semifinals, but lost 6-2, 5-7, 1-0 (8) to the No. 14 N.C. State duo of Alex Galarneau and Michael Ogden. Alvarez and Furman also made it to the quarterfinals, but fell 6-4, 6-3 to Clemson's Simon Baudry and Alex Favrot. 

The Blue Devils will continue to try and find the right combination of doubles players before they open its dual match season Jan. 13 against Arizona State. 

“Overall, we’re doing some good things in doubles,” Smith said. “Jonathan Stokke, my associate head coach, who is a doubles mastermind, has put in a lot of work in with the guys, getting them better. We have a lot of good team combination options. Overall, we’ve definitely made some progress.”